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Mass Violence and Terrorism Victimization: What We Know from Research- and Practice-Based Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2020
34 pages

This report by the Center for Victim Research summarizes evidence from research and practice regarding how best to respond to mass violence and terrorism (MVT) events and identifies where this field needs to expand to improve the nation's response to MVT victims.


The following eight findings emerged from this review of MVT research and practice: 1) MVT victims include injured victims, families of deceased victims, representatives of minor or incapacitated victims, individuals who were present but not injured, and first and secondary responders; 2) There is no broad consensus on the definition of "mass violence," which can influence how the prevalence of victimization is measured and makes it difficult to compare studies; 3) Few clear risk factors for MVT victimization have been identified; 4) In addition to physical injuries, MVT victims experience psychological harms; 5) Immediate efforts to relieve victims' distress and develop their coping skills assists in preventing long-term psychological harm for MVT victims; 6) Trauma-informed cognitive behavioral and exposure therapies have helped MVT victims with psychological disorders; 7) Advance planning is required for the development and training in cross-sector MVT response protocols; and 8) Additional evidence is needed on effective responses to MVT events with differing distinctive characteristics. These findings indicate that researchers, policymakers, and practitioners must address the needs of individual MVT victims and develop broad-based community response and recovery protocols proven effective and adaptable to varying community circumstances. 1 table, 100 references, and appended definitions and sources of mass violence and terrorism prevalence data

Date Published: September 1, 2020